Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Nip/Tuck goes for new look in Hollywood

Caution! Spoilers ahead.

Popular show gets face-lift by cutting ties with Miami

HOLLYWOOD - Goodbye, South Beach. Hello, Beverly Hills.

McNamara-Troy, the debauched plastic surgeons of Nip/Tuck, have closed shop in Miami and traded up (or so they think) for the reconstructive mecca of the famous 90210 ZIP code.

In last week's season finale of the FX series, Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) decided what viewers have known all along — that he can't live without his business partner and best friend, Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh). In a season of several important goodbyes — Julia divorced Sean for good this time and left town with their two younger children; scalpel addict Mrs. Grubman passed away and nemesis Escobar was shot to death — the doctors shut down their Miami practice to start anew in Los Angeles.

The surprise ending marks what fans have come to expect: Nothing on Nip/Tuck stays the same for long. So the season that began with the doctors celebrating their 5,000th surgery in Miami ended with the two of them glamming it up next to the Hollywood sign.

"I just felt there was nothing else they could do in that office," creator Ryan Murphy said. "They've been through too much. The show has always been about taking big risks and taking big chances and doing things you wouldn't expect. In Miami, these are supposedly the best plastic surgeons. Now, we'll do the flip of that. They'll be the little fish in the big pond, which is fun and shows a struggle and gives us room to grow."

Continued growth

That has not been a problem for the Golden Globe-winning series, which has reigned over the 18- to 49-year-old demographic in basic cable since it premiered in 2003. Even last year's over-the-top, macabre season, which turned off critics as well as some fans, didn't seem to make anyone stop watching. In fact, Nip/Tuck has grown 12 percent this year with adults younger than 50, and it is poised to end the year with its most-watched season ever, a feat uncommon among 4-year-old shows.

Perhaps the show's continued success can be attributed to its restless energy and how in one hour it offers a taste of several different genres, mixing the real with the outrageous.

"I think our signature in the first two seasons was that we could operate on so many levels at one time," Walsh said. "Sometimes it was gothic soap opera. Sometimes it was wicked black humor, and sometimes it was farce. Sometimes the soap opera thing was a parody, like our commentary on it, and sometimes it was full-on earnest. Last year, the humor got lost along the way and I think we really missed it. But this year I feel like we brought back those elements of the first two seasons and brought some new stuff, and for me, it's been the most fulfilling to work on."

It started with the show's new use of guest stars, which included recurring roles for Larry Hagman, Peter Dinklage, Jacqueline Bisset, Sanaa Lathan, Brooke Shields, Rosie O'Donnell and Alanis Morissette, and one-episode turns for Kathleen Turner, Catherine Deneuve, Melissa Gilbert and Richard Chamberlain.

"Ryan has always been someone who has had his own obsession with celebrity, and I just couldn't think of a better way to incorporate characters than to bring in all of those extraordinary people," McMahon said.

There was more: Scientology was introduced as the new religion of Matt (John Hensley) and Kimber (Kelly Carlson); Sean and Julia (Joely Richardson) had a baby with a deformity that provoked the final break in their marriage; the characters were shown 20 years in the future; and Murphy borrowed a trick from the movie Magnolia, turning a four-minute montage in the finale into a music video.

Comic relief and more

Many of the season's high points were comical: Sean's interpretation of Bad Santa, Christian's stint as a ventriloquist's puppet, Christian and Dawn Budge's (O'Donnell) sexual tryst, Kimber's face-off with the Scientology figure Xenu, and the sneak peek viewers got of grown-up, messed-up Annie, the oft neglected daughter of Sean and Julia.

"It's a white-knuckle ride working with Ryan," said John Landgraf, FX president and general manager. "I was worried because Miami has been a significant character in this series. But now I think it's exactly the right creative choice to make."

The move gives Murphy an opportunity to build new offices for McNamara-Troy and new bachelor apartments. "I just got bored with the sets. Now I can create these massively great new sets," he said.

Walsh was a little more introspective about the prospect. After filming his emotional goodbye with Richardson, who had to cut short her time on the show this year to take care of her ailing daughter in England and will come back for only a few episodes next year, Walsh said he was despondent over saying goodbye to her and to Sean and Julia's house.

"Joely and I have had so many intense scenes over the last four seasons in that house," Walsh said. "It's always so much more intimate to play those kinds of scenes with an actress, going through the worst a marriage can go through, than to do a sex scene."

Murphy understands the fans feel that way, too, so Sean and Christian will not be moving alone. Matt and Kimber will have their baby, but Matt will move to Los Angeles to go to college and medical school. Kimber will be closer to Scientology and porn. Liz (Roma Maffia) will join the doctors and serve as their anesthesiologist. Julia and her children will visit.

"There's a funny message in all of this, which is that you can keep trying to change the things around you — your relationships, your clothes and where you live — and in an odd way, these guys always land back where they are," Walsh said.

But does moving to California mean that the doctors and best friends will live happily ever after? Or is "a brighter discontent the best that (they) could hope to find," as the song by the Submarines used in the finale's music video goes?

For the sake of the fans, let's hope for the latter.

1 comment:

One Wink at a Time said...

Mark, Just wanted to wish you and your family a lovely, warm, wonderful and blessed Christmas. I was going to "meebo" you and tell you that but I can't figure out how it works. Says your online but... So have a good one! :-)